Now we come to two more Netflix shows featuring women in the lead roles. Both of these actors play top-notch detectives who are struggling with a variety of issues in their personal lives and both deliver such wonderful performances that the shows are worth watching for those performances alone.
I’ll start with Marcella and move on to the second show (Happy Valley) on Saturday.
Anna Friel plays Detective Sergeant Marcella Backland, a woman who left the police force many years ago to take care of her family but is brought back in when a colleague reveals new evidence about an 11-year-old case Marcella had been working on before she left. The timing isn’t great, however, because Marcella’s husband, Jason (Nicholas Pinnock), has just walked out on her and Marcella is about to discover he’s been having an affair for some time. The trauma of this will have a huge impact on Marcella’s ability to focus on the case, especially when strange goings-on at her husband’s company (a huge construction firm led by Sylvie Gibson (Sinéad Cusack)) begin to touch on the case.
The case in question is about a serial killer (sigh - I’m so tired of this theme) and Marcella has her own ideas about where the investigation should go, frustrating many of her colleagues, including her boss, DCI Laura Potter (Nina Sosanya), who tries hard to be supportive. That’s not easy when Marcella begins having mysterious blackouts which will force her to distance herself even further from her colleagues (and even do some illegal things).
Created by Hans Rosenfeldt and Nicola Larder, and written by Rosenfeldt (who also created The Bridge), the eight-episode first season of Marcella is a dark, twisted and generally gripping series, with great acting by everyone involved (especially Friel), gorgeous cinematography, great music and an original, sympathetic and strong protagonist (whose struggle with mental health issues adds a lot, even if it’s not always credible). That’s all great, but unfortunately Marcella is just a little too cold for my taste (like The Bridge), wastes too many opportunities to be relevant and has a few too many clichés (not to mention a sometimes questionable structure).
Nevertheless, Marcella is an entertaining, well-made British thriller that is worth watching (if you like such shows), not least because it contains so many strong female characters. Marcella gets ***+. My mug is up.